Hundreds of students attended KidsMatter's Job Fair at North Central College's Residence Hall Recreation Center Wednesday, in hopes of finding part-time or seasonal employment.
The free event, in its eighth year, helps young job seekers learn more about the process of finding employment.
"Just have them understand a sense of urgency in this economic climate," said Mary Beth Risden, mother of a job seeker. "They really need to have their act together in terms of being confident, going after a job, in some cases rather aggressively, and selling themselves. They have to learn that younger."
More than 40 employers offered around 1,800 job opportunities young people. Job seekers could apply for various businesses ranging from national companies like Gap, Home Depot, and Ann Taylor Loft, to local Naperville employers.
"Cookie Dough creations is here every year," said IdaLynn Wenhold, Executive Director of KidsMatter. "The owner hires almost his entire summer staff from this event. We let kids know that you could easily walk away with a job or at least an interview that you'll have within the next few weeks."
"I used to go to the mall and walk around for hours and I almost never had luck," said Mustafa Sheikh, a senior at Neuqua Valley High School. "I just walked in, went to the first booth and applied and 20 minutes later they said I had an interview. It was really easy actually."
The event also covered resume building and mock interviews so the kids could know what to expect.
"We have 25 professionals from the greater Naperville area principals, bank presidents, business leaders and they are all here to help kids," said Wenhold. "To help them recognize what are those questions that I need to be prepared for when I do have an interview."
KidsMatter knows the event is about more than just finding a summer job; it's about the skills students gain in the process.
"It's to help them become the future leaders of this community and the world, so this gives them that first step," explained Wenhold. "I think so many of our employers that are here recognize the need for young people to have those great opportunities. So they can grow and learn so they are better prepared when they go for those jobs in the future."